Cup of Joe – September 8, 2023

In the first significant hearing in the RICO case, the judge overseeing the case ruled yesterday that Ken Chesebro and Sidney Powell will be tried together on the fast track they requested, denying their motions for separate trials from each other.

No ruling yet on the whether the other 17 defendants, including Donald Trump, will be forced onto the expedited trial schedule, but the judge expressed skepticism that that would be workable.

Mark Meadows is seeking to sever his trial from the other Georgia co-defendants and to delay it until after federal courts have resolved the question of whether he can remove his case from state to federal court.

Former Georgia GOP chair David Shafer is making a similar bid to sever and delay.

“One of the fake electors put forward by Republicans in Michigan said in December 2020 that the plan to use a slate of fake electors to help Donald Trump win their state came together following conversations with ‘some very incredible constitutional attorneys’ from the Trump campaign,” CNN reports.

“Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has asked the judge in the Donald Trump racketeering trial to shield the identities of prospective jurors to spare them the threats and harassment faced by the grand jury that indicted the former president and 18 of his allies last month,” the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports.

The 14th Amendment obstacle to Trump winning back the presidency is untested, uncertain, and yet a fascinating – even tantalizing – development in the historic effort to hold him to account for attempting to unlawfully seize power.

The newest developments include:

  • Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold confirms “there have been conversations among secretaries” about the application of the Disqualification Clause to Trump.
  • A CREW-backed lawsuit filed yesterday in Colorado against Griswold to try to enforce the Disqualification Clause and keep Trump off the ballot in that state.
  • Increasing media coverage of the Disqualification Clause (welcome, WSJ).

Yet, there remains, even after eight years of Trump on the national political stage, a squeamishness about using all the tools at our disposal to protect the Republic from his authoritarian zeal. You saw it for years among elected Democrats, especially on the Hill. The hesitancy spawned its own long-running and divisive debate among the anti-Trump forces. And this argument from David Frum suggests we’re not over it yet:

Of course, it wouldn’t work as Frum suggests. The decisions of election officials would be challenged by Trump and perhaps others in court, and the courts would hear arguments, in some instances consider evidence, and rule on the legal and factual merits. The Supreme Court would have a chance to weigh in. This wouldn’t be contrary to the rule of law but an effort to enforce it.

Put me in the camp of throwing every potentially viable legal means into the effort to uphold the rule of law and not getting bogged down in strategizing the precise sequencing of tools to use, let alone handwringing over the blowback, the threat of revenge, the fear of Trump later using the same tactics.

With everything cooking right now – four indictments in four jurisdictions, civil lawsuits against Trump and his core business, etc – there is finally a concerted, broad-based, unrelenting effort to meet the historic moment. Unilaterally disarming on the Disqualification Clause would be surrendering before the battle is even joined.

New York Times: “The effort to hold the rioters at the Capitol accountable has been the largest inquiry ever undertaken by the Justice Department, and is likely to continue for months, or even years, with additional indictments.”

“But the looming trials of former President Donald J. Trump and those accused of helping him seek to remain in office will be a different sort of challenge, probing the resilience and authority of the criminal justice system.”

“The Trump prosecutions are likely to be a stress test of the country’s commitment to the rule of law at a moment of intense polarization and with Mr. Trump solidifying his position as the Republican Party’s presumptive presidential nominee.”

Closing arguments are expected today in Peter Navarro’s trial on contempt of Congress charges for failing to comply with a subpoena from the Jan. 6 committee.

Wednesday’s trial was brisk: Opening statements, a brief case in chief by prosecutors, and no defense witnesses.

It’s a pretty open and shut case but you never know with a jury.

“John Eastman, testifying at his own disbarment trial, sidestepped a question Wednesday about whether he and others in former President Donald Trump’s orbit discussed the possibility that Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) — rather than Mike Pence — would preside over the Jan. 6, 2021, session of Congress,” Politico reports.

“Eastman said discussions on that topic were protected by attorney-client privilege. When pressed about which client of his he was referring to, Eastman replied: President Trump.”

Special Counsel David Weiss will seek an indictment of Hunter Biden no later than Sept. 29, he told a federal court Wednesday. The looming indictment comes after a plea agreement fell apart in court over the summer. But that’s the narrow way of looking at this. In truth, the long play by Bill Barr and others in Trump world to use Hunter Biden as a weapon against his father is playing out better than they could have imagined.

“Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday shut down all discussion of his recent health problems, refusing to answer reporters’ questions about the precise nature of his medical condition,” Punchbowl News reports.

“And McConnell used the same tactic on his Republican colleagues during the closed-door weekly GOP lunch. McConnell simply went through his medical history, and no senator rose to ask a question.”

“Instead, McConnell was able to shift the talk to fundraising and abortion during that session.”

Key Republicans tell The Messenger they are honing in on what they say is a “pay-to-play” bribery scheme involving Hunter Biden’s business dealings when he worked for a Ukrainian energy company and his father served as vice president.

Sen. John Fetterman (D-Pa.) says Republicans will pay a price in the next elections if they try to impeach President Biden, the HuffPost reports.

Said Fetterman: “Go ahead. Do it, I dare you. If you can find the votes, go ahead, because you’re going to lose. It’s a loser.”

He added: “It would just be like a big circle jerk on the fringe right. Sometimes you just gotta call their bullshit. If they’re going to threaten, then let’s see it.”

“Concern for U.S. democracy amid deep national polarization has prompted the entities supporting 13 presidential libraries dating back to Herbert Hoover to call for a recommitment to the country’s bedrock principles, including the rule of law and respecting a diversity of beliefs,” the AP reports.

Steven Levitsky and Daniel Ziblatt: “The country’s Constitution was once the standard-bearer for the world. Today, many other countries have much fairer systems for electing their leaders and passing laws.”

Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) told Fox News that poetry is proof of “wokeness” in the U.S. Navy.

Said Tuberville: “We’ve got people doing poems on aircraft carriers over the loudspeaker. It is absolutely insane the direction that we’re headed in our military.”

From a new study: “The median Republican county had a 13% higher obesity rate, a 21% higher diabetes rate, a 19% higher physical inactivity rate, a 24% higher opioid prescribing rate, and a 6% higher smoking rate.”

“Legal abortions most likely increased in the United States in the first six months of the year compared with 2020, an analysis of new estimates shows, as states with more permissive abortion laws absorbed patients traveling from those with bans and access to abortion pills via telemedicine continued to expand,” the New York Times reports.

“The data suggests that thousands of women have crossed state lines to obtain an abortion, in the face of restrictions at home. It also indicates a rise in abortions among those living in states where the procedure is legal.”

New York Times: “Idaho’s obstetrics exodus is not happening in isolation. Across the country, in red states like Texas, Oklahoma and Tennessee, obstetricians — including highly skilled doctors who specialize in handling complex and risky pregnancies — are leaving their practices. Some newly minted doctors are avoiding states like Idaho.”

“The departures may result in new maternity care deserts, or areas that lack any maternity care, and they are placing strains on physicians… who are left behind. The effects are particularly pronounced in rural areas, where many hospitals are shuttering obstetrics units for economic reasons. Restrictive abortion laws, experts say, are making that problem much worse.”

“Speaker Kevin McCarthy and the House GOP leadership are considering attaching billions of dollars in disaster relief to a short-term stopgap spending bill, leaving out Ukraine aid at a critical moment in the war with Russia,” Punchbowl News reports.

“Such a move would set up a showdown with the Senate and President Joe Biden over U.S. support for its embattled ally.”

“McCarthy wants changes to border policies as well as an increase in overall border security money in return for additional Ukraine aid.”

Washington Post: “The sentences over the past week — including 22 years for Tarrio, 17 for Biggs and 15 for Rehl — bring the total number of years of incarceration in Jan. 6 sentences to about 700.”

“More than 350 people have been sentenced to jail or prison time, with an average sentence of just less than two years.”

“Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO), a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, ripped the Colorado GOP’s letter about treatment of Jan. 6 defendants, as he broke down the “false claims” that the state’s party outlined,” The Hill reports.

“Mexico’s Supreme Court decriminalized abortion nationwide Wednesday, two years after ruling that abortion was not a crime in one northern state,” the AP reports.

“The Classic Learning Test is the college admissions exam that most students have never heard of. An alternative to the SAT and ACT for only a small number of mostly religious colleges, the test is known for its emphasis on the Western canon, with a big dose of Christian thought,” the New York Times reports.

“But on Friday, Florida’s public university system, which includes the University of Florida and Florida State University, is expected to become the first state system to approve the Classic Learning Test, or CLT, for use in admissions.”

“Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Tuesday blasted Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for what he said was putting ‘politics ahead of his job,’ after DeSantis snubbed President Joe Biden over the weekend during his visit to survey the damage caused by Hurricane Idalia,” Politico reports.

Said Christie: “Your job as governor is to be the tour guide for the president, is to make sure the president sees your people, sees the damage, sees the suffering, what’s going on and what needs to be done to rebuild it.”

He added: “You’re doing your job. And unfortunately, he put politics ahead of his job. That was his choice.”

Donald Trump told Hugh Hewitt that he would like to debate the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle.

Said Trump: “I didn’t like the way she dealt with the Queen. I became very friendly with the Queen. She was an incredible woman. At 95, she was so sharp. She was 100%. When you watch Biden, you say this is a different planet. But they treated her with great disrespect, and I didn’t like it.”

“In Xi Jinping’s strategy for securing China’s rise, the Communist Party keeps a firm grip on the economy, steering it out of an old era dependent on real estate and smokestack industries to a new one driven by innovation and consumer spending,” the New York Times reports.

“But he may have to relinquish some of that control, as that strategy comes under pressure.”

“Consumers are gloomy. Private investment is sluggish. A big property firm is near collapse. Local governments face crippling debt. Youth unemployment has continued to rise. The economic setbacks are eroding Mr. Xi’s image of imperious command, and emerging as perhaps the most sustained and thorny challenge to his agenda in over a decade in power.”

Charlie Cook: “While Biden is only three years older than Donald Trump, by appearance Biden looks at least 10 years older. My guess is that Biden would probably beat Trump in a 100-yard dash or a test on his command of issues, but the optics of how Biden appears and occasionally sounds are terrible.”

“President Joe Biden has traveled more frequently than former President Donald Trump this year, even as Republicans regularly imply the 80-year-old incumbent is homebound as they work to capitalize on voter concerns about his age,” the HuffPost reports.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told Axios he has urged former President Trump to support the mega-deal President Biden is negotiating with Saudi Arabia, which could pave the way for a historic peace agreement between the kingdom and Israel.

Donald Trump attacked Ann Coulter on Truth Social as a “washed up” pundit who “went unbearably crazy with her demands.”

So Coulter responded on X: “Trump begged me to come to Bedminster this week. I said only if I could record a Substack with him, but the GIGANTIC PUSSY is too afraid of me, so instead he did this.”

“Donald Trump is planning a candlelight dinner fundraiser with his sons at his Florida Mar-a-Lago club this fall to help pay the legal bills of those ensnared in the four separate criminal cases he faces,” The Messenger reports.

“The exact date and details of the event – which could raise between $500,000 to $1 million – are still being ironed out for the Patriot Legal Defense Fund.”

“Donald Trump and his advisers are mapping out an economic agenda with harsher trade policies and deeper tax cuts if he returns to the White House, stirring anxiety within the US business community of potential retaliatory measures,” Bloomberg reports.

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

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